(Updated at 10:15 p.m.) Residents in Arlington and Alexandria can now report suspected sightings of the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect spreading around the region.
Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia has launched an online survey for people to report suspected cases of the spotted lanternfly. The organization is a volunteer group working to promote “environmentally sound gardening practices,” in partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension, according to its website.
The survey asks people to report the location of the sighting and submit photos of what they have seen, among other information. If the insect shown in the survey is an actual spotted lanternfly, MGNV may then ask the sender to catch the insect and bring the sample to the organization.
“It may not be necessary for somebody to collect the sample, but we definitely would like pictures,” said Cordelia Collinson, a summer intern who helped to set up the form.
Spotted lanternflies are currently present in several Northern Virginia counties, spanning from Augusta to Prince William, according to a national distribution map from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program.
The invasive insect was first detected in the state in Frederick County back in 2018. Collinson and others working on the reporting project saw the bug in Leesburg, in Loudoun County, last week as well.
“The spotted lanternfly is spreading throughout Virginia, we predict that it is coming towards us, we just don’t know when,” Collinson said.
This insect is a “potentially very serious” pest that targets grapes, peaches, hops and other agricultural crops, according to an information webpage from Virginia Cooperative Extension. It was first discovered in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in 2014.
“Just going off from the damage that happened in Pennsylvania to agricultural crops, that’s concerning for Virginia agriculturalists, especially for the grape industry, the vineyards, and also apple orchards,” Collinson said.
The state is concerned about spotted lanternflies because they are swarm feeders that suck juice out of plants, where hundreds of them may feed on the same plant at once, which may cause significant damage, Collinson said.
She added that the insect also leaves behind a sweet excrement that promotes the growth of a black mold and can attract insects like wasps. An infestation of spotted lanternflies may lead to a quarantine, where businesses in the area need to get a government permit and inspect their goods leaving the area, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
“Shipping and different product transportation [will be] a bit more regulated because [the state wants] to make sure that no spotted lanternflies are hiding under goods or on the other side of the truck, because that’s how they spread primarily,” Collinson said.
Spotted lanternflies are usually in their nymph stage right now and will become adults in late July. As nymphs, they are either black with white spots or red with black stripes and white dots before becoming adults. As adults, spotted lanternflies have wings around an inch long that are tan with black spots on the outside and red patches on the inside, Collinson said.
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Signature Theatre just released single tickets for all 33rd season productions, which highlights the organization’s long-time relationship with legendary composer Stephen Sondheim. Beginning with the musical adaptation of The Color Purple and irreverent No Place to Go, the season continues with three Sondheim musicals, the DC premieres of Off-Broadway hit Which Way to the Stage and Pulitzer Prize finalist Selling Kabul, the Tony Award®-winning rock musical Passing Strange, and return of Signature’s cabaret series honoring legendary artists.
“Last November, the world lost an icon. The death of Stephen Sondheim was a blow to everyone in the theater community. Signature Theatre would not be the same without Sondheim — he IS Signature’s ‘signature.’ This season, we are honoring the legend with productions of Into the Woods, Pacific Overtures and Sweeney Todd dedicated to his memory. These shows represent the diversity and range of Sondheim,” said Signature’s Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner about the new season.
Join us Sunday, Aug 28 from 12-3pm for our MEGA Wine Tasting
How it Works:
We’ve invited all our wine vendors that we work with to bring 6-10 wines in their portfolio (wines that are usually not carried at Osteria